The government’s intention for the future of British transportation is clear. It pledged to invest a total of £540 million in electric cars, including the commitment for £400 million for the building of more electric car charging points.
The government’s commitment to improving the transportation system has also brought about a surge in funding from various sectors, which mirrors the increased international demand for innovations in travel tech that require improvements in vehicles and roads.
With the announcements of the government’s funding to develop the British transportation system, and that tech businesses would be given the green light to test autonomous cars on public roads by 2021, various tech corporations and start-ups scramble to have their offering road-ready before 2021.
For most British citizens, the idea of owning a car is no longer a viable option. The increased cost of operating a car and the stricter government regulations on who can get behind the wheel have dampened people’s interest in buying new cars. However, the bright side of the story is that taking the bus is no longer the challenge that it used to be. Thanks to the efforts of the country’s innovative start-ups, taking the bus has become a very convenient alternative to driving a car. It is a lot easier now to scan the bus timetable or wait for the cheapest MegaBus, public transport routes now work around people, instead of the traditional practice of the commuters searching for their buses and routes.
Zeelo, the start-up on-demand coach service that uses artificial intelligence, uses machine learning and big data to understand the surges in demand that are not met by the current transport options. This intelligence allows them to provide direct coach routes, which cuts travel time by up to 40%.
Zeelo, founded in London only last year, has received £1.2 million of seed funding from InMotion Ventures, a venture arm of Jaguar Land Rover. Zeelo is backed by Kane Pirie of Travel Republic, Simon Woodroffe of Yo! Sushi, and Transport for London board member Michael Leibreich.
Zeelo claims to have carried over 20,000 customers since launch by integrating with over 20,000 executive coaches across the UK. Zeelo focuses on large events but has plans to use the latest injection of investment to roll out its technology across different markets in the UK and Europe, including city-to-city travel and airports.
Using the same idea, travel start-up Sn-ap is using a crowdsourced booking system in connecting travelers going to the same destination with local coach operators. Thomas Ableman, former commercial director of Chiltern Railways, established the company in 2016. The London-based company raised £2 million last September, aiming to offer an “anytime, anywhere to anywhere” only when there is a big demand, which allows them to keep prices low, with all trips direct and no detours or drop-offs along the way.
The rise of traffic-calming technology is a great help to UK travelers who have the most congested roads in Europe. The technology is another example of the innovative and intelligent response to transport issue, with the UK start-ups leading the fight to change the gridlock.
Vivacity Labs, a start-up that is working on the development of AI camera to facilitate the regulation of traffic in real-time seeks to pave the way for driverless cars in the UK. It received £1.6 million in funding from Downing Ventures and Innovate UK’s project grant worth £1.7 million. Attempting to ease traffic and provide safer driving conditions for both driverless cars and cyclists, the Vivacity Labs has deployed 2,500 sensors across a 50 square mile area of Milton Keynes. The company aims for a larger rollout over the next few years.
The rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence has changed the transportation landscape in the country. Tightened regulations mean that British citizens can no longer enjoy the comfort of cheap taxi apps such as Uber as more cities are refusing to grant a license to the ride-hailing app. More and more, the people need to get used to a shared mode of transportation like coach services as the improvement of technology will extend its reach to autonomous vehicles and connect in a more efficient manner the disparate coach services.
The main goal of the British transport is to make travel easier and more convenient to as many people possible.